August 4th, 2010

Libraries and Social Media: Who gives a tweet?

by Brian Lane Winfield Moore

I’ve been working on a followup assessment to a baseline I did last year about our work blog.  Recently we’ve been branching into social media for communication and I’m honestly not all that sure what strategies we will use to include them in assessment for the future.

Should your library have a social media policy? Libraries need a social media strategy!  *WARNING: the next page has the f-bomb as URL* What the *censored* is my social media strategy? I jest, but it is wise to develop some sort of structure to avoid embarrassing yourself and your library.

‘How can you show the value of social media?’ or  ‘What’s the ROI?’ if you’re in sales and marketing are common questions. I don’t have the answers, but a new study by the University of Southampton, MIT and Georgia Institute of Technology has launched Who Gives A Tweet? to receive feedback about messages on Twitter. They started off offering somewhat immediate feedback on your own tweets by friends & strangers, but have scaled back to rating “a few strangers’ tweets before you rate your friends’ tweets.”

From Science Daily,

“Social networking sites currently take an optimistically positive view of status updates,” says Paul André, graduate student at the University of Southampton’s School of Electronics and Computer Science. “Facebook enables users to ‘like’ their friends’ updates, and Twitter has ‘favourites’. But this ignores the value that could be gained from understanding which updates are disliked and why.”

Michael Bernstein, PhD student at MIT, comments: “Analysing the negatively rated tweets, and the consensus that forms around them, will help us understand the emerging approved or accepted norms in these new forms of online communication.”

I’m not sure about this & haven’t signed up my own account. For me, much of what I write and tweet is with an understanding (I hope) of my target audience of  librarian colleagues and others interested in health and library information. Strangers wouldn’t necessarily pick up on those nuances. My own friends have told me they have no idea what I’m tweeting about most of the time. That’s ok since they love me anyway (or at least they haven’t unfollowed me yet), but it wouldn’t be ok if a library’s Twitter account followers didn’t get the message.

For all the talk about what libraries should be doing with policies and strategies for social media, what about making sure their patrons perceive the library’s use of social media as positive? What is the equivalent of website usability study that can be done by a social media audience of patrons for the library social media channel? Since offering feedback via social media about companies and their websites is new, this may be too far of a stretch currently but it’s one I see on the horizon.

2 Responses to “Libraries and Social Media: Who gives a tweet?”

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Nikki D., Deborah Lepley. Deborah Lepley said: Seems quite timely following tweets from #nmee RT:@eagledawg Libraries & Social Media: Who gives a tweet? […]

  2. […] Libraries and Social Media: Who gives a tweet? ” ( […]

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